Holmes making progress

BG’s shot-blocking specialist improving offense

Bowling Green State University big man Richaun Holmes, 22, already has the school record for blocks in a season.
Bowling Green State University big man Richaun Holmes, 22, already has the school record for blocks in a season.

BOWLING GREEN — It didn’t take long for Richaun Holmes to have an impact on the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team.

The sophomore transfer from Moraine Valley Community College in suburban Chicago had four blocks in the Falcons’ loss at Akron on Saturday. That gives Holmes 62 this season, breaking the school record of 59 set by Cornelius Cash in 1973-74.

The record does come with a bit of an asterisk because blocked shots were not kept when Nate Thurmond, who ranks among the NBA’s all-time leaders in that category, played at Bowling Green.

Still, BG coach Louis Orr said he felt Holmes would be able to have that kind of defensive impact right away.

“If there was one thing we knew he would be able to do, it’s block shots,” Orr said. “I thought he was a bright spot against Akron. He competed against Zeke [Marshall] and their big guys, and that was good to see.”

Holmes did more than just block shots against the Zips, scoring a season-best 15 points while adding eight rebounds, one shy of his season high.

“We knew he had a decent touch,” Orr said. “My expectations of him are high — he can be as good as he wants to be. He can be as good as the work he puts in.

“He needs to get physically stronger. And he has to keep working on his skills — shooting, passing, dribbling — because he could play on the perimeter.”

One other area where Orr is looking for Holmes to develop is in having a “high motor,” or ability to play with higher energy.

“I want people to describe him as a high-energy guy,” Orr said. “Because he’s so long and athletic, if you combine that with energy and activity you will get more productivity.

TAKE A BREAK: The Falcons will step away from Mid-American Conference play this week with two nonconference games.

BG will host New Orleans at the Stroh Center today at 7 p.m. Then the Falcons will travel to IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind., for their final appearance in the BracketBuster series.

Orr said there have been positives and negatives to the BracketBusters, which were created by ESPN to pit highly regarded mid-major schools against one another in the last weeks before the NCAA Tournament.

“I think anything that helps scheduling is a positive, and in that way it’s been a positive,” said Orr, noting that teams paired in a BracketBuster one season are obligated to play a second contest in the next season or two. “But the biggest challenge is the timing — being in the middle of the conference season, I think that is a challenge.

“I also think, at this time of year, it really benefits teams that are high RPI teams because they play similar teams, so it helps their resume. But not every team benefits from that.”

Orr added that the nonconference games give the team a chance to tune up its performance.

“I’m thankful we still have six games and three weeks of season, because there always are things we can improve," Orr said.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can accomplish even more. We need to get as much out of these final games as we can.”

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.